Misc 20/01/2021

Health Department has already detected 16 cases of the British variant and expects them to multiply

Public Health Secretary defends maintaining current restrictions a few days more

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BarcelonaThere are already 16 cases of the British variant confirmed in Catalonia, although until now there were two, and the Health Department predicts that this figure will increase in the coming days. This was explained by the Secretary of Public Health, Josep Maria Argimon, in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, in which he pointed out that this is the variant of the virus that is most worrying because, although it has not been proven that it causes more serious cases, it does have a higher transmissibility. Argimon, in fact, has defended that for now what is most alarming is the number of patients in ICUs, which is already higher than at the peak of the second wave. There are now 612 people in intensive care units.

Infection rates, however, are lower than at the peak of the second wave. Argimon has pointed out, in this sense, that the trend is to slow down and even lower the number of daily infections - we are at 26,000 a week - but that if there are now more ill people in intensive care units it is because the December bank holiday arrived just as the second wave was beginning to subside. No time for improvement. He has admitted, in fact, that the way restrictive measures were managed during the bank holiday was a "mistake". "In one month alone we have 300 more people in ICUs", he said.

Faced with this hospital pressure, he has stressed the need to curb the number of infections to prevent the situation from becoming "untenable" and this, he said, can only be achieved by reducing social interaction: "We have to do less, go to work and go home". He explained that elements such as mid-morning coffee in bars, which now have limited opening hours, have already been eliminated, and that we must act "the sooner the better".

The Secretary of Public Health has stated that he is in favor of maintaining the current restrictions for a few days more, without taking steps back. He said that "it would be good" to advance the curfew to eight o'clock in the evening as requested by some autonomous communities, despite the fact that he has pointed out that the period from eight o'clock in the evening to ten o'clock at night does not have a high level of social interaction, and he has proposed to maintain what is already in force for a few more days.

Regarding municipal lockdown, he has defended maintaining it, despite admitting that he is unaware of the situation of small towns. In Barcelona, he said, one can get everything, therefore, he has not valued the proposal of the mayoress Ada Colau to increase the perimeter and extend it to the whole of the metropolitan area.

Argimon has also criticized the action of the Spanish government, which he has accused of "profiling" the direct aid he believes should be given to the sectors affected by the measures and for appealing against the decision of Castilla y León to advance curfew.

Regarding vaccination, he said that almost all care homes without active cases of covid have been vaccinated, and that among health professionals everyone wants to be vaccinated, and that rejection is minimal. He regretted, however, that on Friday there was a warning that fewer doses than expected would arrive on Monday. "Everything is going very fast, from one day to the next. We will receive 8,000 doses of Moderna next week, and during the month of February, more than 80,000". He is confident that in March they will start vaccinating those over 70 years old, as announced by the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa.

The head of Public Health has said that vaccination could take place 24 hours a day but that it will have to be in "very specific centres" and that the mobile vaccination points, which are being considered, could be a complementary strategy. This could take place in large, open spaces.

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